A wonderful idea was brought up (by Jad) to have ordinary, down-to-earth stories told by Arabs and Israelis about themselves, about their daily lives, about what it is like living in their respective countries. So much of our fears and suspicion stems from ignorance, from simply knowing little or nothing about the “other side”. And so we’re inviting you to read and comment about your life, and about those of our neighbors.

Quite appropriately, Jad will be the first. Jad is a Syrian from Damascus, and he wrote a nice piece about what it is like being a Syrian today (Thank You Jad!):

“From an average Syrian man with the name of Jad.”

I am from a typical Syrian middle class, hard working and very loving family. My childhood was between the urban neighbourhoods of Damascus in winter and the beautiful Mediterranean landscape in the summer, God is generous to me, he opens me many doors to advance, I have big dreams some I already done yet the best are still to come. In my trip I met and will meet great people, teachers, I learned and will learn from them what I need to become a better human being and to become the beautiful reflection of my country Syria.

I as a Syrian am not different than you as an Israeli, I may not have your luxury car, your expensive house and your fancy towers in my cities but we both have one reason to live, we both want a bright future, we both want to live the same way we do when we travel outside our countries, me and you are the same but we don’t see that we’d rather magnify our differences and make wars for it.

We as human and as enemy are not that different from each others, we eat three meals a day, we drink, we laugh, we love, we make sex, we kiss, we cry, we get angry, we get frustrated, we hate , we like, we dislike, we draw, we sing, we play music, we have blue eyes, brown eyes and green ones, we both eat olives, figs and hummus, we both believe in a supernatural creator yet we are willing to steal, cut lemon tree, orange tree and almond ones, we are willing to kill in the name of our creator and our corrupted politicians.

At the end of our battle days we both go back to our houses only if we still alive, we both greet our families with the greatest passion, we both tell them how much we love them and how much we missed them, we both remove the tree leaves stuck in our hair from the battle field as the evidence of our crimes, we both clean our cloths from the earth that we both contaminate it with our sins, we both wash our hands from the blood of each other, then, we go to make love with our wives or husbands, get tiered and go to sleep, we both again, wake up again, doing the same thing in the next morning which is preparing for the next battle.

But it doesn’t have to be this way we both can use our logic for a better future, with peace we both can much more than wasting the souls of our enemies and the souls of people we love, we can save our brothers and sisters. With peace you can visit my country and my famous home town of Damascus.

Let me tell you about my love story with an old old city called Damascus or Alsham as we call it in Syria, please tell me, what do you call Damascus in Hebrew?

Here is why I became in love with her: Imagine growing in a city where the jasmine perfumed its morning mist in every corner of its old as well as its new neighbourhoods.

Imagine living in a museum full of antiques teaching you the history without even reading it.

Imagine a city where its music is the Gregorian chants, the prayer of the mosque imam along with the churches bells.

Imagine the beauty of colourful flock of doves dancing in an orange sunset sky.

Imagine seeing the majesty of a silver moon rising between the minarets, the domes and the arches of this ancient city, every month.

Imagine the whole city being like an oasis surrounded by a belt of blossoms in the middle of a dry land.

Imagine the symphony that handicrafts men play by just drawing in silver over hard copper plates.

Imagine feeling the taste of apricot filling your mouth whenever you try to say her name as our Nizar ones taught us.

How can you imagine all of that and not to fall totally in love with such enchanted city.

Nizar Quabani, our famous Syrian poet once wrote:

“Damascus, is not a photo of the heaven,

It is the heaven.

It’s not a second copy of the poem,

It is the poem.”

I’m looking forward to hear your story.

Dimashq 26 Ayar 2009